Posts Tagged ‘Clint Dempsey’

Clint Dempsey – Poacher

May 26, 2011

From Opta on twitter:

“11 of the 12 goals that Clint Dempsey scored in the EPL this season were one touch finishes, the other was two touches”

I have thought that since Clint was moved back into midfield after half a season of leading the line, he has looked less effective in front of goal. He has definitely contributed in other ways but the goals dried up to a certain extent. Could this be to do with the fact he is such an excellent finisher rather than a dribbler/creator?

Dempsey’s position has always been a funny one, he is definitely a forward rather than a winger, but he is not a striker as such. With Zamora back, it will be interesting to see if Hughes tries to move Dempsey back up top alongside him, or possibly just behind him. What we do know is that with the right service, he is deadly with both feet and his head.

Hamburg 0-0 Fulham: A Tale of Two Defences

April 23, 2010

It just seems that this team is built for 2-legged European ties. Our away form in the premier league often comes under scrutiny and criticism (and rightly so) but under the bright lights of European competition it is the perfect remedy. Fulham may not play sparkling football away from home but it sure is effective. Only one European away performance can be described as poor during this campaign  and that was the 3-1 loss to Juventus.  Other than that night in Turin (which of course was gloriously rectified a week later) Fulham have been more than solid away from home. An initial draw against CSKA Sofia  with almost a complete second team, being robbed in Rome by poor officiating and a fantastic away victory in Basel rounded out a good away showing in the group stages.  A phenomenal defensive performance at Shakthar, a victory against German champs Wolfsburg and now a good scoreless draw at Hamburg added to the feeling of improved away performances. Why is it so different from the premier league? I guess that when we have a game plan (Must win or Must Draw) we are good at sticking to it. And of course Roy Hodgson is a God of European football.

As for the match last night. Not a huge amount to discuss other than to pile admiration onto the likes of Schwarzer, Gera et al. An early Baird mistake meant that hearts were in mouths as Ruud Van Nistelrooy bore down on goal, only for his composure to weaken and Schwarzer to collect the ball at his feet. Other than that chance, the first half passed everyone by with Hamburg restricted to long range shots that rarely tested Schwarzer.  Jonathan Pitroipa looked dangerous but had little end product, and other than the worryingly poor passing from Fulham there was not much of note.

As the second half started it was noticeable that  Zamora was struggling, an Achilles injury acting up and with him unable to make his usual powerful runs Fulham were unable to find an out ball. Hodgson dragged off the limping Zamora and brought on Fulham hero Clint Dempsey. Surprisingly this made Fulham much more dangerous in attack with Dempsey’s clever runs irritating the Hamburg defence Fulham started to look the better team. I noticed that now that Zamora had come off, Davies was spending a lot more time in a really central position with Konchesky making more probing runs down the left. Perhaps it wasn’t the 4-6-0 formation that many are predicting will be the future of football, but with 6 midfielders on the pitch for Fulham, you cannot get much closer to it than that.

HSV, to their credit, came back at Fulham and a couple of testing long range drives were dealt with magnificently by Schwarzer. Petric had come on by this stage but although he brought more of a goal threat to the HSV team I felt that they lacked something  without Guerrero ‘in the hole’. As the game drew to a close, Fulham looked to be comfortably seeing out an excellent draw. With the Fulham support in good voice, the final whistle blew and Fulham are one step closer to a European final. Wow.

p.s. A quick word for the Ref, who I thought was outstanding. He hilariously told players of both sides to stand up when the were tackled and kept the game flowing. All of the yellows were warranted. It is a pity he won’t be refereeing the return leg.

Fulham 2-1 Wolfsburg

April 2, 2010

What a game football is. A few weeks ago against Shakhtar Donetsk, the final whistle at the cottage was greeted with a huge roar of appreciation and people bouncing around in near delirium, but last night, despite the exact same result almost the opposite was true. I am complicit in this as anyone else,  as a late Alexander Madlung goal deflated the crowd and took the shine of what was another night of enthralling European football at the cottage. Yet this was still a good result and leaves Fulham with an excellent chance of heading through to the semi-finals.

Fulham have already been nearly written off by both the BBC and The Guardian:

Fulham’s late lapse could cost them dearly, but Wolfsburg were rewarded for their persistence in the final 10 minutes and will now be confident that they can progress to the semi-finals.

and

Possibly. But the feeling lingers that in Lower Saxony, in front of their own crowd, Wolfsburg might just bring to a close Fulham’s remarkable run in this competition, which began last July.

We have been here before havent we? After the Shakhtar game, many were questioning how Fulham would hold up away from home, and look where we are now! I am remaining optimistic about the return leg in Wolfsburg for several reasons:

1) We actually won last night meaning that Wolfsburg have to score. Now they have scored the most goals in the Bundesliga, but looked fairly average last night. I thought Dzeko looked dangerous, and they will probably score, but the emphasis is on them to create, something they struggled to do against a solid Fulham defence last night.

2) Basle, Shakhtar, Juventus. All teams with excellent home records, all teams we scored against away from home. It is not like Fulham have never scored away from home in the Europa league.

3) Wolfsburg have an average/iffy defence that Zamora was really testing last night. Wolfsburg have also conceded the second highest number of goals in the Bundesliga. I can see us getting a goal there.

As for the game itself, I would call it interesting rather than a classic. The first half was scrappy and Wolfsburg seemed content to sit back and try not to concede. A few half chances were created for both sides with the most notable coming at the end of the first half. Duff cut inside running full pace toward the Putney end, evaded two defenders before laying the ball off to Dempsey who hit the ball just wide.

As the second half began, Fulham looked the more dangerous team. Things started to gel and the crowd was lifted as Fulham began to commit men forward. The goals, when the came, were a huge relief. Both goals were counter-attack style moves that caught the Wolfsburg defence in flux and gives me hope that a similar goal c0uld be pilfered in a weeks time. The ball was won in midfield by Gera who hit a nice long pass for Zamora which he  controlled  well. A gut-busting run down then right by Duff then pulled the Wolfsburg defence further out of shape and allowed Zamora the time and space to place the ball in the back of the net from 20yds with an excellent curling finish that left Benaglio, the Wolfsburg keeper, flailing. The Cottage erupted and then relief was palpable.

And the first goal was quickly followed by a second. Again the ball was won in the midfield with Wolfsburg committing men forward, and Murphy found Zamora. Spotting Duff sprinting into the box, Zamora then laid the ball off for Duff to slam home with a unstoppable shot. Amazing. No-one was expecting this! Wolfsburgs response was to get forward and pressurize Fulham as they searched for the elusive away goal. Unfortunately it eventually came as the clock wound down. A Wolfsburg corner was taken short, catching Fulham unawares. Misimovic then had all the time in the world to pick out Madlung who powered a header into the back of the net. Damn. When the final whistle blew, there was a sense of disappointment around the stadium. At least the return leg will be interesting I suppose!

Fulham 1-2 Man City

March 21, 2010

In the context of Fulham’s season, games do not get any more irrelevant than this.  Two pieces of good counter attacking football meant that Man City were 2-0 up and cruising before half time.  Man City looked like they wanted it more and much like against Wolves earlier in the season Fulham did not start playing until the 70th minute.  Fulham dominated the closing stages and were rewarded a very generous penalty by Stuart Probert when Barry was adjudged to handle the ball in the area. Murphy calmly slotted the ball away and it looked like Fulham might salvage something from the game. Unfortunately it wasn’t to be. The best chance fell to Stefano Okaka who fired wide with only the keeper to beat and Dempsey arriving late in the area. Perhaps this will go some way to silencing the critics of Hodgson who believe that Okaka should have more of a prominent role. When the TV camera cut to an irate Hodgson after the miss, it perhaps gave us a slight insight into why he doesn’t think Okaka is quite ready yet.

More worryingly for Fulham was the form of Danny Murhpy. He looked off the pace all game, with pretty much everything he attempted bar the penalty, failing to come off. Murphy has been outstanding in general for Fulham, but it might be time to be seriously looking for a replacement this summer.

Up next is the important match against Spurs in the FA  Cup quarter-final replay. After the highs of Juventus, I fancy Fulham to at least give it a go at White Hart Lane. At least Zamora and Gera should be relatively fresh as they were both brought off during the course of the Man City game.

Fulham 4-1 Juventus

March 20, 2010

Unbelievable. I have only gotten round to writing up a match report now because I still can’t quite believe it. I keep finding myself thinking, wait a minute, we did beat Juventus and we did overturn a 3 goal deficit. Phenomenal.

The match itself was somewhat bizarre. Firstly, kickoff was at six meaning that there was a rush to get to the game itself. Having gotten there early, I sat with my brother soaking up what I thought would be our final European experience for who knows how long. As the clock ticked towards six and the stadium slowly filled, the anticipation amongst the fans built to a peak. By the time the players ran out, I was raring to go. Game on.

Or not. It is not easy to deflate an entire stadium during supposedly the biggest game of Fulham’s history, but Juventus did just that. A Salihamidzic cross was not cleared and Trezeguet applied a simple finish. Bugger. Oh well, I told myself, it has been fun.

But this is Fulham under Roy Hodgson, so there was no need to worry that Fulham would not at least put up a fight. With the crowd now beginning to rise from the deflation of the first Juve goal, that man Bobby Zamora struck. Shrugging off Cannavaro, he cushioned a ball suppied by Koncheksy off his chest, and powered it into the left hand corner of the net leaving Chimenti with no chance. Now it was game on.

With Craven Cottage rocking, the pressure appeared to be getting to even the most experienced of the Juve players. A smart flick-on by Bobby Zamora put Gera through, only for him to be pulled down by Cannavaro. A red card swiftly followed (slightly controversially) and all of a sudden hopes of a result gained momentum. Juventus were now without their talismanic skipper and their already patched up defence became even more shaky. Antonio Candreva, who had looked dangerous up until this point, was hauled off for Zdenek Grygera and it was advantage Fulham.  Zamora hit a peach of a free kick with his left foot but Chimenti was equal to the challenge and palmed the ball round the post for a corner. Two more chances followed in quick succession with Davies hitting the post from a free kick and Etuhu doing the same with a header. I have to admit, with both of these chanced gone I started to feel that this might be one of those days.

As half time approached, it was an excellent team move that secured a crucial second goal. Bobby Zamora (again) chipped the ball over a static Juve defence, Simon Davies hit a low cross into the six yard box and Zoltan Gera arrived with impeccable timing to apply the finish. It now seemed to me as though Fulham had all of the momentum and were going to do the unthinkable. I guess the best way to describe it is as if ‘the weight of history’ ( the arguement the Communists used to justify their movement) was behind Fulham. The guy next to me turned and said ‘we only need one more!’, ‘we can get two, C’mon Fulham!’ was my response.

As the second half started the crowd were really having an influence on the game. The Juventus players looked rattled and Fulham were taking control. It wasn’t long before another breakthrough came. Duff was released into the right hand side of the penalty area but his cross came off the arm of Diego. The referee pointed to the spot and Gera dutifully stepped up to take the kick. As the crowd held their breath, Gera dispatched the penalty, sending Chimenti the wrong way. The crowd erupted Fulham were suddenly very much favourites to win the tie. Whether this could happen in normal time was another matter.

After Gera’s goal, the game settled once again as Juventus struggled to hold on in order to force penalties. Hodgson then made the substitution which changed the match. With Juventus pinned in their own half, Hodgson brought off Stephen Kelly, who had an excellent match, for Clint Dempsey and shifted Simon Davies to right back. This gave Duff more attacking support and helped to really apply pressure to the left flank of Juventus.

But is was Clint Dempsey who was to make the difference with what can only be described as an outrageous goal.  Having controlled a pass from Etuhu with his back to goal, Dempsey turned and let fly with an angled chip from the edge of the 18 yard box.  The ball hung in the air for what seemed like an eternity before nestling into the top corner, over the head of an exasperated Chimenti. UNBELIEVABLE. The crowd erupted as Dempsey charged behind the goal, celebrating like a man possessed. With that goal, Dempsey had just inserted himself in Fulham folklore.

Nervous moments followed as a Juventus goal would have knocked Fulham out, but it was the visitors who lost their heads. Zebina saw red for a petulant kick on Duff in the corner and Felipe Melo was booked for a similar infringement . A succession of free kicks killed the game and as the whistle blew it hit home, Fulham were through.

Amazing, Fulham had not only beaten Juventus over two legs, but had done so by overcoming a 3 goal deficit. As I walked back to the station, tired and drunk on emotion, I passed an older couple who had been to the match. As I walked by, I overheard them saying ‘March 18th 2010, the night Fulham beat Juventus 4-1, and WE were there’. I turned round and shot them a huge smile, which was generously reciprocated. I too had been there. What a night.

Juventus 3-1 Fulham

March 12, 2010

It may be the rose tinted glasses that I can often be found to be wearing but I really don’t think that Juve were two goals better than Fulham last night. Yes, Juve probably deserved to win, but we certainly weren’t pinned back a la Shakhtar, and the game had more of an away game to a mid-table premier league side than last rounds of the Europa league feel to it. Fulham had lots of the ball, particularly in the second half, and if the defence had been up to their usual standards we would definitely still be very much in the tie.  As it is, Fulham have a mountain to climb, but we are at home and we might have Juve right where we want them, overconfident.

For an excellent match report here and here and highlights, if you can bear to watch, here.

Juventus are a huge team. The most successful team in Italian footballing history, with the largest support in Italy (not that you could tell from the crowd las night). Yet Fulham put in a battling display, even if the result was not particularly fantastic. Considering that Fulham were missing their captain and heartbeat of the midfield in Danny Murphy, our regular right back in John Paintsil, our regular striker in Andy Johnson and of course Clint Dempsey (who did make an appearance but has been out for a significant amount of time) this was a solid display. Add to this our left back only just returning from injury and it is quite impressive that we managed to go to Torino and get a goal. Two years ago we could never have dreamt of playing Juventus in the last 16 of the Europa Leauge, never mind doing it with half a squad of backup and reserve players. This is how far we have come.

I would almost say that it is a damning indictment of how far Juve have fallen in recent years, that a mid-level premier league club struggling with fatigue and injuries, could come to Torino and give a good account for themselves.

As for Fulham, the result could have been worse. We now have to go back to the Cottage and put in the display of a lifetime to go through, but hey, this is what cup competitions are for! No one thought that Fulham could beat Basel away from home, but they did, no one thought that Fulham could beat reigning champions Shakhtar Donetsk, but they did. In fact no one really gave Fulham too much of a chance of getting out of the group stages, but here we are. 2-0 is not a scoreline that is ridiculous, however if they score, it is probably all over. I for one cannot wait for the return leg, the Cottage will be jumping and knowing that two goals have to be scored, Roy might just take off the shackles a bit more than usual. Whatever happens it should be a memorable night!

Player Ratings:

Schwarzer – 8    Excellent in goal, could do nothing about all three of the goals

Baird – 5    Not his best game, struggled to add much to the game

Hughes – 6     Solid as usual, but not amazing

Hangeland – 6   Again, solid, but at fault for a couple of the goals

Konchesky – 5  Looked like a man returning from injury, and couldn’t find his rhythm.

Duff – 7  Industrious as ever, looked dangerous and if the man marking of him by Juventus is anything to go by, they were worried about him too.

Greening – 5  An easy scapegoat, but had a very average performance in the middle of the park and picked up a yellow.

Etuhu – 6    Better than people give him credit for and played one great pass out to Zamora on the wing that made me smile. Oh, and he scored!

Davies – 5  A poor game. He really struggles on the left which is fair enough considering he is a right winger. Would still like to see him play centre mid though!

Gera – 6  Buzzed about and looked dangerous, but couldn’t grab hold of the game.

Zamora – 7  Worked his socks off, was persistently fouled (as per) and continuously called offside, even when clearly on. Look for him to take it to Juventus in the return leg.

Stoke 3-2 Fulham

January 5, 2010

Unfortunately for Fulham the two goals clawed back against Stoke very much flattered an inept Fulham performance.  Many Fulham fans, myself included, fancied this match as some rare points on the road. At the weekend I saw this game as ‘make or break’ in terms of our season, but on the way home after work I realised that was a stupid snap judgement to make. Even if we lost the game (which of course we eventually did)  we wouldn’t have changed position so no danger of slipping down the table. Of course full credit to Stoke for taking advantage, they played well and wanted it much, much more. I like Pulis and his honest approach to the game so good luck to them for the rest of the season.

Now, the fun part, recounting the game. 3-0 down in the first half hour, all from terrible defensive mistakes and organisation. The first goal was simple. Corner swung in, Huth with the flick, finished by an unmarked (!!!) Tuncay on the line. Things only got worse as a foolish and hot headed Konchesky challenge resulted in a free kick in a dangerous are (where have we heard that before). Again, free kick swung in, no one there, Faye taps in at the back post.  Final goal, Etherington the creator, flicked on by Higgenbottom (who appeared to be offside bu wasn’t) and volley in off the ground by Sidibe. Game over. What was the most shocking was how dire the defending in the lead-up to the goals was. 2 years of Roy Hodgson have made us feel safe and almost impenetrable at the back, but tonight we got a nasty reminder that we are not Chelsea/United/Birmingham. We are fallible.

So where did it all go wrong? Firstly, Hangeland was obvious seriously unfit as he was consistently out of position and missing headers that are usually his bread and butter. It would be easy to blame the coaching staff for letting him play, but to be honest, before the match I was hoping he would start. I just did not know how injured he was. Secondly, we just played badly and Stoke played well. They were first to every challenge and pressed us off the ball in a similar fashion to Wolves a few months ago. Particularly poor performers include: Baird, Konchesky, Murphy, Kelly and Hangeland.  Thirdly, we did what we always seem to do when pressed or against more physical teams; hit the ball long. This for me was the worst part of the performance tonight. We were never going to win an aerial battle with Stoke yet time and time again it was back to the fullbacks and hoofed up field for Zamora who was chewed and spat out by the Stoke defence. I can see why we hoofed it under pressure but why did we not even attempt to pass round them? Our movement was poor and  there were hardly any through balls on the ground for AJ to chase. The key to beating the Stoke defence is pace, and rather than using BZ as a target man he should have been running the channels with AJ as he arguably has more pace.

The other option and one I am keen  on is to play 4-4-2 at home but revert to 4-4-1-1 away. This means Gera gives extra protection to Murphy and we have more possession to play with. It will be interesting to see what Roy does in future.

Other worrying things about tonight?: BZ injured. Lets hope it is not serious or it is a serious blow to our season. Hangeland struggling- lets hope he returns to full fitness, although Smalling played extremely well when he came on. Our full-backs, I think this was more of a blip than a trend but not easy to watch nonetheless.

Good Omens: Nevland came on and looked sharp. Smalling was excellent when he came on and even won some good headers in attack in the dying embers of the game. Gera played well considering he was back on the wing and everyone around him was poor. Clint came on and was a game changer-what a great goal and good performance from the subs bench. Once we started attacking more we actually looked dangerous away from home and could have snatched an unlikely draw. We play a severely depleted and demoralised pompey next (not that I am going to take anything for granted!)

In a few weeks/months this will be remembered as another away loss as we are poor away from home. Lets put things back on track this weekend!

Fulham 3-0 Manchester United

December 20, 2009

In March of this year, Fulham put in an excellent display against a 10-man Utd to earn a hard-fought victory that helped propel us into 7th in the league. Who would have thought a famous victory could be replicated a mere 9 months later? Before the match pundits were predicting a Man Utd win or at the most a draw, usually backing up their comments with lazy nods towards the results of previous seasons. For me, United were in line for a beating like this. How they escaped with a win against Wolfsburg astounded me but they have been fairly average this season and with the injury list at such a length things were going to get worse before they started to get better.

However, Fulham played out of their skins and completely dominated Utd all over the pitch. Even with their defensive frailties, Utd still had a very potent attack but this was neutralised by an excellent Baird and the usual suspects in the back 5.  Utd were limited to speculative long-range efforts, embarrassing considering the riches they have going forward.  Fulham were unstoppable going forward with Zoltan Gera playing ‘in the hole’ behind the rejuvenated Bobby Zamora, and Duff and Dempsey making dangerous runs forward.

The first goal came just after Kuszczak pulled off an outstanding save to deny Gera after Zamora nonchalantly chested the ball to Gera who looked to apply the finish with an accurate side foot. I have to admit, with Kuszczak apparently on form I was fearing another Vito Mannone performance against us. Luckily this wasn’t to be. Murphy robbed a poor Paul Scholes in midfield, took a few strides, set himself and then blasted home from 2o yards out. As Rich over at CCN has pointed out, this was due to a clever piece of deception by Murphy. This sent Fulham fans into a state o Euphoria and the match ebbed and flowed until half time with Fulham very much in the ascendency.

As the second half kicked off I was wondering whether our lack of ruthlessness in not putting away Utd in the first half would come back bite us a la Burnley.  My fears were allayed as duff swung an excellent right footed (!!) cross deep for Dempsey to head back across goal and Zamora to apply the finish. Utd were left in shambles and the win was sealed. Alex Ferguson changed things around, bringing on Wellbeck and Berbatov. This made for a brief Utd resurgence before Damien Duff killed the match. A free kick from the half way line was swung into the box, Zamora again chested it down expertly for Duff to power home on the volley.  Three quality goals to top off an excellent performance.

Overall an excellent team performance. Stand-out players were Zamora (again), Duff, Dempsey (who defended as well as he attacked), Murphy and Gera. I think we have finally found the position Gera revels in and I whilst I do not believe he should oust a fit Andy Johnson from the team, I think we may have found a new formation to make us more potent on the road. What really stands out for me from this game is that Utd did not score. I thought that Owen was awful and should not be going to South Africa and Rooney cut a frustrated figure, running all over the pitch and collecting the ball from left back and central defence. Credit to Hodgson’s defensive solidity that was derided by some as too negative for much of last year.

Fulham now go into next weeks clash full of confidence and with a full week of rest and uninterrupted training behind them. Tottenham did not play particularly well against Blackburn this weekend so Fulham should be confident of getting a result. The match will be tough but Fulham are at home and players are returning from injury, so there is every reason to be optimistic.

Sunday Update 2: Fulham 1-0 Sunderland

December 6, 2009

Another home match, another 1-0. It wasn’t only the scoreline that was oddly similar but the performance as well. Fulham started brightly, passing the ball with ease around a struggling Sunderland side who were forced to field Kieran Richardson as a makeshift left back. I had commented before the game on TIFF when I found out that Richardson was playing left back that Zamora may come wide and assert his dominance over him. This certainly happened, but Zamora also dominated the entire Sunderland back four in a majestic performance. But is was a Richardson failing that was to aid with the Fulham goal. Not pressurising Duff, meant that he could lay the ball back to Paintsil who delivered an inch perfect cross for Zamora, ghosting in between the Sunderland central pairing, to head home. A well worked pleasing goal which reminded me of the one Man City scored here last season, a Zabaleyta cross met by a Benjani header.

As the first half wore on, more chances came and went. Zamora hit the bar with a good effort and Fulop beaten,  and Nevland should have done better when the ball dropped for him the six yard box, but he hit it tamely at Fulop in the Sunderland goal. The rest of Fulham’s chances were limited to speculative long range efforts from Dempsey and Duff, both of whom could not hit the target.

At half time, one wondered how Fulham were only 1 up. As the second half got under way, Fulham reverted to Hoof ball and ceceeded the midfield to Sunderland in a fashion similar to that on wednesday night.  A poor Konchesky back pass nearly resulted in a goal for Kenywe Jones but Schwarzer stifled his toe poke. This rejuvinated Sunderland and as the pressure mounted, Fulham got off scott-free as Bent (who I think is a top player) contrived to miss two excellent chances. The second of the aforementioned chances should really have been put away as the ball dropped to his feet in the penalty area only for him to blaze over. But Fulham held firm. Sunderland bombarded the box with cross after cross for Hangeland to imperiously head clear. The second half performance was not quite as poor as on Wednesday and Fulham won, even if it was squeaky bum time as the game wore on.

The stats told an interesting tale. Fulham had 13 shots to Sunderlands 7, but only got 2 on target to Sunderland’s 4. All of the long range shots that come to nothing are reflected here. Dempsey again proving he should perhaps stick to running at defences, playing others in and finishing from inside the area. All in all, I feel that Fulam deserved the win with Bobby Zamora the standout MoM. Calls for him to be included in the England squad may be far fetched at this point in time, but if this form keeps up till the end of the season and he bags upwards of 10 goals, he should be in consideration. Especially if Heskey is not playing regularly. With the tough games coming up over Christmas, Fulham better sort out their inability to play solidly for 90 minutes, otherwise our points tally and goal difference will suffer.

Fulham 3-0 Blackburn

November 26, 2009

A well received victory by the Fulham faithful. It is interesting that we cannot play 90 mins of good football this season. For the first 44 minutes it was all Blackburn, out hustling Fulham to every ball, passing with determination and creating all of the chances. Not that they created many of quality. It could have been so different had Franco di Santo knocked the ball past Schwarzer in the 3rd minute, but a solid block and good covering from Aaron Hughes prevented any damage being done.

Fulham looked lost for the half, the midfield swamped, the fullbacks pinned back and the enigmatic Clint Dempsey pulling an invisible man. But with Blackburn asking all of the questions but failing to find any answers, an excellent and decisive Fulham counter attack, started and finished by Norwegians, put us ahead on the stroke of half time.  Brilliant one touch football reminiscent of the counter attack goal against stoke last year had proven successful. Fulham didnt deserve it, but they would certainly take it.

The second half was a completely different kettle of fish. Fulham passed the ball beautifully and with new found confidence, the excellent Baird patrolling the centre of the pitch, Duff starting to threaten. When Zamora was brought off due to injury and Dempsey moved up front, however, there was a question lingering over the effectiveness of the front line against a burly Blackburn defence. But the answer for the brawn of Blackburn was the brain of Fulham, invigorated by the grand wizard of footballing intellectualism himself Roy Hodgson at the half. Fulham looked lively up front and it wasn’t long before Fulham scored again. Duff cut inside onto his left, curling the ball into the area for an instinctive dempsey to pounce on and fire  into the net. Game over.

Nevland then missed when it was easier to score, after good interplay with Dempsey but the game was rounded out in style with 3 minutes remaining.  A good run by Simon Davies was rewarded with a slide rule pass by Paintsil. Davies then crossed low to Dempsey who turned his marked and fired home. If after 44 minutes you had told someone that Fulham would win 3-0 after dominating the second half you would have been laughed at, but thats football I suppose.

 

There were many interesting side stories to the match. Firstly, I am not sure where Dempsey plays best. As Rich has pointed out over at Craven Cottage Newsround, Dempsey scores his goals from close range. He is incredibly composed in front of goal for a midfielder, instead acting more like a poacher a la Nevland. His turn up front was excellent and Fulham looked dangerous. This is good news and gives us yet another option to mix things up and possibly more of a replacement for Bobby if he gets injured.

Secondly, Nevland and Dempsey have struck up quite the partnership. Against Liverpool (I Know it was only against 9 men) they combined well for  a late goal, and against Blackburn they seemed to form a fairly natural partnership. Maybe this is Nevlands best partner.

Thirdly, we are not a long ball team. It may be obvious, but someone needed to tell the team in the first half. Last season against Blackburn, Fulham played the second half ‘Blackburns way’ and ended up capitulating. Almost the opposite this time out, lets hope this is kept up for Bolton at the weekend.